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Germany

Fischer: New Chance for Middle East Peace

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who was in the Middle East on Sunday visiting Palestinian and Israeli leaders, said there was a "historic opportunity" to move forward in the peace process and urged both sides to seize the moment. Fischer said his talks with officials on both sides of the conflict had left him with a sense of optimism. After talks with the new PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Fischer said the next weeks and months would be critical in reaching a two-state solution. "It's very important that the suffering on both sides is ended," he told reporters. "It is necessary to find a compromise between both sides." The German foreign minister predicted that US President George W. Bush's second term in office would focus more on the conflict. Fischer is the latest in a series of high-ranking diplomats seeking to revive the stalled peace process following the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw have all held talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in the last few weeks.

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